Cut 10 or 12 (2 for each eggplant) 8-inch lengths of kitchen string.
Step two: Make the pickles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim the eggplants but do not remove their stems. Add the eggplants to the boiling water and boil, turning occasionally, until they feel soft but not mushy when squeezed, 8 to 10 minutes.
While the eggplants are boiling, prepare a bowl of ice water. When the eggplants are cooked, immerse them in the ice water, then drain and pat dry.
Split them lengthwise almost in half, as if preparing a baked potato for stuffing; leave about 3/4 inch uncut at each end. Use the tip of the knife to gently nudge each eggplant open and push its flesh aside to create a pouch. Push enough carrot and pepper strips into each eggplant so that some will be exposed when the eggplant is closed. With kitchen string, tie each eggplant closed in two places.
Stand the eggplants end up in a 1-quart jar. If there is a lot of room between them, wash, core, and quarter the optional red bell pepper lengthwise and shove the quarters into the jar among the eggplants to keep them upright. Add the peppercorns and the garlic clove, if using.